Blog

Are You Squidding?

By: Dr Mandy Reid, Michael Hugill, Category: Science, Date: 15 Feb 2013

An unusual catch brought Big Fish Small Boats's Al McGlashan (and his camera crew) to my lab space at the Museum.

In June 2012 I was contacted by Telegraph reporter Malcolm Holland to provide some information about Giant Squid for a newspaper article he was writing.

The Telegraph’s fishing columnist, Al McGlashan, had contacted Malcolm because he had found the remains of a very fresh Giant Squid, measuring about 3 m long, floating off Jervis Bay and thought it would be an interesting story for the Telegraph.

I was very keen to get in touch with Al to see whether any of the remains had been kept to add to our frozen tissue collection for DNA studies. Most Giant Squid that are found dead are usually quite decomposed, so as this one appeared to be fresh its DNA was likely to still be intact.

Al told me that he had kept the buccal mass (muscular tissue surrounding its beak) and the beak itself. I made a trip to Al’s house and picked up the remains for our collection.

It was during the time of our Deep Oceans exhibition, so I removed and cleaned the beak to be used as a display item for exhibition visitors and frozen tissue samples for possible DNA work.

A few weeks later, Al and a photographer working on a Channel 10 TV ‘Big Fish Small Boats’ fishing segment came to the museum to follow up on this lucky find and have a look behind the scenes at the Australian Museum to see where the Giant Squid sample ended up and talk about its usefulness for research.

This segment, which aired on Channel 10 in November 2012 has now been posted on Youtube (starting at 12:35 in the video above).